By Alou Doumbia, Field Director
How does a village come into contact with Mali Rising? What are the criteria for collaboration with our structure?
The discovery of new partner villages is a process. Through our web site, many people see the actions of Mali Rising. The villages that have already benefited from new schools inform their neighbors or during the opening ceremonies for a new school guests from other villages realize that Mali Rising is a serious organization that responds exactly to the problems they did not have a solution to.
The criteria for a village to enter into partnership Mali Rising are also simple; we encourage communities to work in agreement with us, to take ownership of their school, and to develop the spirit of solidarity in pursuit of education for village children.
A partnership with Mali Rising requires the collection of money by the village to participate in funding 20 percent of the cost of their school, collaboration with the local office of the Ministry of Education, registration of local girls in school, and team spirit.
The process of creating a partnership with a village begins with a visit to our offices by the envoys of the village chief. The representatives officially request school construction and invite the Field Director to visit the village.
During this visit many questions are discussed such as the size of the population, the number of children (girls and boys), the distance from the village in relation to other schools, the number of students who will occupy the classrooms, the history of the village, its geographical location, its economic status, the presence or not of other NGOs in the village, the existence or not of a source of water or a health center near the site...the list for discussion is long!
The participants in the meeting are the members of the school management committee, the village leaders, the women's group, the teachers, and some students. The school management committee is the first structure that seeks the partnership between the village and the NGOs. It is composed of 12 to 14 members including a few women. The committee has a great responsibility in the maintenance of the school and the recruitment of children in school and the payment of tuition fees.
After this general assembly there will be a visit to the proposed construction site. The site of the school is usually given by the village chief to the school management committee. The village donates the land for the construction of the school, and the Field Director inspects the site to make sure it is a good, safe place to build.
In our villages, the role of women is very important in the success of children in school. Mothers are in charge of breakfast, and when a child has not quickly found his breakfast, they arrive late to school. In many villages, women pay their children's tuition fees.
Depending on our findings from these discussions and visits, the village may be added to Mali Rising’s list of eligible villages for school construction. Villages must meet many criteria in order to be successful partners. The most important criterion for selection is the need – we look closely at how many students would attend the school and how long of a walk they face currently to the nearest school. At any time, we usually have three to five villages eager for a new school so the wait may be long.
Next week, Mali Rising will be announcing our next partner village for a new school. Stay tuned for the exciting news!